Airbus and China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I) have agreed to enter into the third phase of the A320 Family Wing Cooperation Programme, which comprises the production of wing box. This represents significant progress in Airbus’ technology transfer to China.

The two sides signed today the initial contract to launch the A320 Family Wing Box work package in China. This covers the assembly work of the first batch of wing boxes and the corresponding tooling, involving a contractual value of $ U.S. 70 million. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin attended the signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

“The A320 Family Wing Cooperation Programme is a major cooperation programme between Airbus and AVIC I,” said AVIC I Executive Vice President Yang Yuzhong. ”The wing box contract has enabled the programme to make further progress. We are looking forward to enlarging the scope and improving the levels of our cooperation.”

Airbus wings are the most advanced and the A320 Family is the best-selling aircraft in the world, with more than 1,000 remaining to be delivered.

“Airbus is determined to substantially increase its industrial cooperation with China and this is an important step in that direction,” said Philippe Delmas, Airbus Executive Vice President Government Relations, Communications and External Affairs.

The A320 Wing Family Cooperation Programme is a key commitment that Airbus has made to China in terms of technological transfer. In 1999, Airbus signed an agreement with AVIC I, pursuant to which Airbus agreed to transfer the manufacturing technologies and assemblies of the wings of A320 Family aircraft to China.

The first phase of the programme started in the same year. In November 2002, Airbus signed an agreement with AVIC I to start the second phase of the programme, which allowed Xi’an Aircraft Corporation (XAC) and Shenyang Aircraft Corporation (SAC) to produce the fixed trailing and leading edges respectively. The first ship set of fixed leading edges was delivered in September 2004, while the first ship set of fixed trailing edges was delivered in March 2005, signalling that the second phase is making progress. With up to 30 engineers sent by Airbus to XAC and SAC, the cooperation programme is set to speed up.

The leading and trailing edges and wing box technologies are important components of wing production, and play an essential role in aircraft manufacturing.

Five Chinese companies are already involved in producing parts for Airbus aircraft, namely Chengdu Aircraft Corporation, Shenyang Aircraft Corporation, Xi'an Aircraft Company, Hong Yuan Aviation Forging & Casting and Guizhou Aviation Industrial Group.

In industrial cooperation with China, Airbus is not only committed to technology transfer, but also committed to increasing procurement and R & D. The value of procurement from China per annum, in respect of existing programmes, is projected to reach $ U.S. 120 million dollars by 2010, doubling the $ U.S. 60 million target for the year 2007. As regards research and development, Airbus plans to establish an engineering centre in China and recruit 200 Chinese engineers by 2008. Airbus is also offering the Chinese aviation industry participation in up to five percent of the proposed A350 programme.

Today, more than 3,600 Airbus aircraft are in operation worldwide, and over half of the Airbus worldwide fleet has components produced in China.

Airbus's business in China has been steadily expanding since it first entered the country in 1985. The Airbus fleet in service in the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao has grown to more than 280 today from just 29 in 1995. A world-class training and support centre, which represents a US$80 million investment by Airbus, is fully operational in Beijing.

Headquartered in Toulouse, France, Airbus is an EADS joint Company with BAE Systems.